Aston Villa boss Remi Garde discusses Micah Richards' fitness and Newcastle clash

The 27-year-old defender is still struggling with a knee injury ahead of Saturday's trip to St James' Park.

Aston Villa could be without team captain Micah Richards for a third successive game when they face Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Saturday evening, manager Remi Garde has revealed at his pre-match press conference.

The 27-year-old defender missed the 1-1 draw at Southampton and last Sunday’s 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal with a knee problem and will face a late fitness test ahead of the weekend’s trip to the North East.

Garde did not sound confident about his skipper’s status for the match but did add that he expects him to be back for the rest of the fixtures over the festive period, which see Villa take on West Ham United, Norwich City and Sunderland, respectively.

“Micah is still struggling with his knee,” said Garde. “We’ll see at the end of the week, but then everybody else is available for selection.

“Hopefully [he will be back for the rest of the festive period], yes.”

2015-16 Premier League TeamTotal Tackles MINSTackle AccuracyTotal Clearances MINSDuels Won MINSDuel SuccessInterceptions MINSBall Recoveries MINSPassing AccuracyAppearancesMins Played
Jores Okore Aston Villa 30 33% 13.85 18 71.43% 60 18 82% 2 180
Micah Richards Aston Villa 55.71 71% 12.58 12.72 71.88% 32.5 19.18 86% 13 1,170
Ciaran Clark Aston Villa 80 67% 10.91 16.36 66.67% 32.73 23.23 77% 8 720
Joleon Lescott Aston Villa / West Brom 85.91 91% 15 25.54 59.68% 39.38 18.53 80% 11 945

Jores Okore and Joleon Lescott have partnered each other at centre-half in Richards’ absence and the pair are expected to retain their places for the Newcastle clash if the former England defender does not recover in time.

However, Garde does have the option of recalling Ciaran Clark, who was on the bench for the Arsenal loss after serving a one-game suspension, while Liverpool loanee Tiago Ilori is also pushing for his first senior appearance for the club after shaking off a nagging groin strain.

“We concede too many goals but we are not losing by four or five goals," the Frenchman added. "I think we need a little bit of luck, but we also need a little bit more efficiency.

“We had a good reaction [against Arsenal] after an early goal killed our plan for this game. I liked very much how well the players did in the second half.

“We had a lot of chances to get back into that game, but unfortunately, we missed efficiency in the box.”

Vila are currently sitting eight points from safety at the foot of the table going into Saturday’s game, having taken just six points from 16 games and gone without a win since beating Bournemouth 1-0 in their season opener.

Newcastle themselves were looking in grave trouble just a couple of weeks ago, but back-to-back wins over Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have since moved them 10 points ahead of Garde’s bottom-dwellers into 15th-place.

Nevertheless, the ex-Lyon boss is confident that his side can get a result on the day, adding: “Newcastle have talented players, to be fair. Their collective game didn’t work well until now, but for me, they have talented players.

“They seem to be better on the collective side and they are improving, but we are also and I’m confident we can give them some problems.”

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